ACT, commonly known for their college entrance exam, is set to begin testing a new tool that would help schools identify and track underperforming students as early as kindergarten. The tool will likewise track the students’ career aspirations and their progress towards accomplishing their academic goals.
The new tool will use a combination of traditional standardized tests and pre-designed projects led by teachers. The latter part is designed to allow schools to figure out how a score of a single students stacks up against that of his or her classmates and peers.
In a press release announcing the tracking tool, ACT explained that the new system will allow schools to catch and correct skill deficiencies early before students fall so far behind that they will be unequipped to deal with college-level material. The research underlying the tool has shown that early intervention is one of the most effective ways to developing a successful academic career.
The new system—anchored by the organization’s flagship college and career readiness exam, the ACT®—will offer an integrated, multidimensional approach to college and career readiness that focuses on measuring achievements and behavior relative to goals. It will be the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from early elementary to high school, helping students know exactly where they are and providing insights on how to build on strengths and address weaknesses, both in and out of the classroom. The system will be linked to ACT’s industry-leading College Readiness Standards™ and Benchmarks.
As designed, the system will work with Common Core Standards, which are currently being adopted in nearly all of the 50 U.S. states. However, school districts will be able to modify the system to work with their own assessments as well.
The new periodic tracking tool is right in line with the mission ACT laid out for itself when the company was first established in 1959, explains Jon Whitmore, the company’s current chief executive officer. ACT was a pioneer in education information collection and analysis, thus allowing students, their families and schools to ensure that they continued on a journey to educational success. Stretching the assessment window to encompass the entirety of a student’s academic career means that schools and parents can tailor a corrective strategy to each student and put it into effect so there will be fewer pupils who are doomed to chronically lag behind peers as they move from grade to grade.